'I felt like I was getting pelted with excrement': Readers weigh in on political ads

By Sarah Whitmire

We asked readers if they found political TV ads to be informative, here's some of what they said.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… 't flooding the airwaves with negative campaign ads. From Sandra Holt of Florida: All ads are promoting a product. Political ads are advertising a person …"

"… ng. Their income from ads is just too great.  From Robert Boxold of Florida: [Ads had a] very negative impact, I have voted since the '60s and this …"

New battlefront for petrochemical industry: benzene and childhood leukemia

By Kristen Lombardi

Jarrett McElheney grew up near a cluster of petroleum storage tanks. His parents believe benzene in drinking water gave him cancer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Georgia":

"… voice over anything.” Maryam Jameel contributed to this story. …"

"… achloride and 1,2-dichloroethane, sparking a state investigation. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) found benzene in the water of …"

"… a 1991 letter to the company states, and requested further action. Under Georgia law, the company was required to develop what the EPD calls a “correctiv …"

Election 2014 by the numbers

By Michael Beckel

A new Center for Public Integrity money-in-politics index highlights key facts about the most expensive midterm in history.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Federal Election Commission":

"… ed as of mid-October: $32 million Amount all outside groups have told the Federal Election Commission they’ve spent on North Carolina’s Senate race: $76 million Ratio …"

"… result of that analysis. Other sources include the Cook Political Report, Federal Election Commission, Center for Responsive Politics and Sunlight Foundation. Rachel Baye, Car …"

U.S. Senate races to attract 1 million TV ads

By Michael Beckel and Dave Levinthal

Super PACs, nonprofits help fuel relentlessly negative messaging in U.S. Senate races.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee":

"… s — more than any other single week during the 2014 election cycle. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee and pro-Democrat super PAC Senat …"

Power shifts to outsiders in U.S. Senate fight

By Michael Beckel

Battle for control determined in large part by big-spending super PACs and nonprofits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "North Carolina":

"… Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire and South Dakota, according to a Center for Public Integrit …"

"… ng processed by the government. Nevertheless, some races stand out. Take North Carolina, for instance, where incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican ch …"

"… ore ads from groups that are neither candidate committees nor parties than North Carolina. Of the 90,000-plus Senate-focused TV ads that have aired in the Tar Heel …"

North Carolina's state of political hate

By Dave Levinthal

North Carolina's U.S. Senate race is the nation's nastiest — and few are particularly friendly affairs.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee":

"… ith their national party committee allies. In all, the Hagan campaign and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee combined last week to produce more than 4,300 TV ads that either overtly a …"

Secretive groups spend millions to influence state elections

By Reity O'Brien

Nonprofits hit TV airwaves with attacks on state-level candidates, gaining traction since the U.S. Supreme Court 'Citizens United' decision.

Excerpts from this story referencing "North Carolina":

"… these politically active groups have had to disclose their donors. In North Carolina and Georgia, for example, some of these groups airing political …"

Democrats seize air supremacy in Senate battlegrounds

By Dave Levinthal and Michael Beckel

Liberals aired more TV ads last week than their conservative foils in seven of the nine top Senate battlegrounds races.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Michigan":

"… ant in the U.S. Senate races being waged in Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan, where they bested Republicans by sponsoring hundreds more TV spots throug …"

"… t could be Republican Terri Lynn Land’s waning U.S. Senate fortunes, the Michigan candidate’s campaign committee ran just 425 TV ads last week. That’s l …"

Prison bankers cash in on captive customers

By Daniel Wagner

Private company profits by helping prisons squeeze inmates' families for cash.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Georgia":

"… rceration. “The Jail Cats program at Gwinnett County Detention Center in Georgia is rescuing kittens and helping to rehabilitate incarcerated women,”&nbs …"

Senate Democrats lead TV ad blitz

By Michael Beckel

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aired more TV ads in key Senate races last week than any other group.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Michigan":

"… neck with Republican spenders. For the battleground states of Colorado and Michigan, the top sponsors of ads last week were independent groups — not a candi …"

"… ds, ranked as the No. 1 spender, airing about 1,000 ads last week. And in Michigan, that distinction belonged to NextGen Climate Action, the super PAC suppor …"

Children's rights groups urge Defense program to stop giving school cops military hardware

By Susan Ferriss

Groups trying to curb use of police in school discipline urge federal officials not give military weapons to campus police departments.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Department of Defense":

"… s but keep an anti-mine armored vehicle and 61 M-16s it acquired through a Department of Defense program. The surplus automatic M-16 rifles were converted to semi-automati …"

"… , that it would return the anti-mine armored vehicle it received through a Department of Defense program. More than 20 national education and civil rights advocates sent …"

"… n 20 national education and civil rights advocates sent a letter Monday to Department of Defense officials, urging them to stop giving U.S. school police departments anti- …"

Mitch McConnell revs ad machine

By Michael Beckel

Kentucky’s embattled senior senator has aired roughly one campaign ad every five minutes since Labor Day.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Senate":

"… al contributed to this report. …"

"… as Grimes’ campaign aired during the same period and more than any U.S. Senate candidate nationwide. But for Republicans, Kentucky’s big-money Senate …"

"… Senate candidate nationwide. But for Republicans, Kentucky’s big-money Senate contest is an anomaly during a week that saw Democrats and their allies pr …"

"… ng to spend whatever’s necessary to prevent the GOP from seizing the six Senate seats it needs in November to win a Senate majority. During the week foll …"

Why Republican control of Congress hinges on nine big-money Senate races

By Michael Beckel and Dave Levinthal

Nine big-money Senate races will determine whether Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Republican Party":

"… e in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Although Brown is expected to the Republican Party’s nominee next week, he nevertheless faces a pair of plucky challengers …"

How big telecom smothers city-run broadband

By Allan Holmes

Municipal broadband boosts business, but often stops at city limits thanks to lobbying muscle of telecom giants.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Tennessee":

"… Bowling, a 67-year-old grandmother and Republican state senator from rural Tennessee, thought it only made sense that the city of Tullahoma be able to offer it …"

"… providers, like AT&T Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. But a 1999 Tennessee law prohibits cities that operate their own Internet networks from providi …"

"… et a vote.  That’s when Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T’s Tennessee operations, leaned toward her across the table in a conference room next t …"

"… ominous warning reached her colleagues as well. Days later, support in the Tennessee House for Bowling’s bill dissolved. AT&T had won. “I had no idea …"

Democrats embrace 'McCutcheon' decision

By Michael Beckel and Dave Levinthal

Ahead of high-stakes battle for the Senate, Democrats create massive fundraising group blessed by contentious 'McCutcheon' decision.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Arkansas":

"… ce early this year. That website argues that Democrats in key states like Arkansas, Iowa and Louisiana are being outspent on the TV airwaves by “the Kochs …"

"… Central Committee of Louisiana Iowa Democratic Party Democratic Party of Arkansas Colorado Democratic Party North Carolina’s Wake County Democratic Part …"

"… ary Landrieu of Louisiana Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado Sen. M …"

Gun rights debate enters a new arena: the campus

By Wade Millward and Carmen Forman

The right to carry a firearm onto college campuses has become another issue in the gun control debate

Excerpts from this story referencing "University of Florida":

"… rd members. On July 30, the Florida Carry lobby lost its suit against the University of Florida over the university’s guns-in-cars policy and whether colleges must let …"

Evolution of public-carry laws expands gun rights

By Kristen Hwang and Kate Murphy

Public-carry has moved from rare to widespread in the wake of recent shooting incidents

Excerpts from this story referencing "Georgia":

"… ars: 16 In restaurants: 0 Guns are increasingly common in public spaces. Georgia’s Legislature recently passed the Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, whi …"

"… ngly common in public spaces. Georgia’s Legislature recently passed the Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, which significantly expanded where gun owners c …"

"… Everywhere Bill.” “I open my front door and walk in public spaces in Georgia,” said Kathryn Grant, co-founder of the Georgia Gun Sense Coalition. “ …"

"… walk in public spaces in Georgia,” said Kathryn Grant, co-founder of the Georgia Gun Sense Coalition. “Most people don’t think about the potential of v …"

Pat Roberts' merry band of boosters

By Dave Levinthal

Outside groups are using the power of positivity to help save career of Kansas' longtime U.S. senator.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Virginia":

"… t — has funded ads that expressly attack Roberts, federal records show. Virginia-based Senate Conservatives Action, the super PAC arm of the Senate Conserv …"

Obamacare-driven competition lowering rates in some states

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: much-maligned Affordable Care Act attracting for-profit insurers, driving prices down in some states.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Tennessee":

"… decision to allow “grandfathered” plans to be sold for another year. Tennessee residents were able to take advantage of some of the country’s lowest ra …"

"… ry’s lowest rates this year, primarily because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee — which has an 88 percent market share — priced their policies too low …"

"… , which priced its policies considerably higher than it’s counterpart in Tennessee, has requested an average decrease in premiums of 7 percent. The big unkn …"

Is this super PAC subverting disclosure rules?

By Michael Beckel

Georgia's GOP Senate primary has attracted big money from a super PAC funded by two nonprofit groups tied to an Ohio lobbyist.

Excerpts from this story referencing "primary":

"… g businessman David Perdue in Georgia's contentious Republican U.S. Senate primary, has come from two "social welfare" nonprofits connected to an Ohio lobbyi …"

"… ton. The two men emerged as the top-two vote-getters in the state's May 20 primary, but neither garnered more than 50 percent of the vote. The winner will f …"

Bush bundlers boost pro-Gillespie super PAC

By Michael Beckel

Co-chairman of U.S. Senate candidate's finance committee also helps bankroll supportive super PAC.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Federal Election Commission":

"… n as the We Can Do Better PAC, according to documents filed today with the Federal Election Commission. Leach, a businessman and investor, raised at least $100,000 for Bush's 2 …"

Outside money pouring into governors races

By Ben Wieder

Dem, GOP associations are spending more than double as much on governors' races in the 2014 cycle than at the same period in 2010.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Ohio":

"… GA has also targeted races with ads in Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Separately the D.C.-based group has given …"

Case reopened after Center reveals judge's conflict of interest

By Kytja Weir

Center investigation identifies conflicted judge leading to new hearing for discrimination case.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Supreme Court":

"… Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The appellate courts are second only to the U.S. Supreme Court in terms of seniority. Marion F. Walker, the attorney representing Jacobs …"

Limited liability companies power West Virginia super PAC

By Michael Beckel

Group funded by limited liability companies boosts West Virginia Republican Alex Mooney.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Karl Rove":

"… 00 to American Crossroads, the pro-GOP super PAC co-founded by strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Govoni himself donated the legal maximum of $2,600 to M …"

Toomey discloses trip after inquiry

By Michael Beckel

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey failed to disclose a March trip to an exclusive, 'off-the-record' conference.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Georgia":

"… ., during its multi-day, “off-the-record” summit at a luxury resort in Georgia, he was supposed to file paperwork with the Senate Office of Public Record …"

Meet the Banking Caucus, Wall Street's secret weapon in Washington

By Daniel Wagner and Alison Fitzgerald

Industry campaign cash flows to pro-bank activists in Congress, yielding big returns.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Bank":

"… y, the 56-year-old from Dallas is well on his way to achieving that goal. Bankers’ best friends Every business sector has its friends in Washington. F …"

"… ensarling’s committee can’t move legislation on its own — the Senate Banking Committee supports Dodd-Frank — the House panel can work its will in …"

"… t for the phone to ring — and you don’t have to wait very long.” The Banking Caucus The Center for Public Integrity reviewed political finance reco …"

"… nother drafted a letter to regulators and sent it directly to the American Bankers Association so the industry group could pressure other lawmakers to sig …"

FEC sends senators erroneous warnings

By Dave Levinthal

Politicians received notices they violated election laws due to a communications mix-up.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Thom Tillis":

"… ep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga.; Republican Karen Handel of Georgia and Republican Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Several volunteered tracking codes and confirmation re …"

GAO report again finds black lung proposal supported by science

By Chris Hamby

A new government study supports reducing the dust limit workers encounter in mines; the industry is pushing back against stronger rules.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Government Accountability Office":

"… into an appropriations bill blocking implementation of the rule until the Government Accountability Office conducted an evaluation of the research underpinning the proposal. The res …"

Residents of polluted U.S. communities fear planned cuts in EPA enforcement

By Ronnie Greene and Chris Hamby

The EPA's "Next Generation Compliance" plan would lead to fewer inspections of, and enforcement actions against, polluters.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Pat McCrory":

"… uke Energy coal ash spill into the Dan River. In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 29 years before taking office — a connection …"

GOP opposition to Obamacare baffles Dr. Sullivan

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: former HHS Secretary Sullivan says Obamacare resembles plan crafted by Republicans.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Judge":

"… Assistant Secretary of Labor William Brooks and former Ohio Supreme Court Judge Sara J. Harper), he now heads the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Healt …"